‘It didn’t take me seven years to work out this was wrong’: Former Northampton MP says Iraq inquiry is ‘too little too late’

Former Labour MP Tony Clarke campaigned against the Iraq war - but he says the Chilcot findings do not go far enough in criticising the government.
Former Labour MP Tony Clarke campaigned against the Iraq war - but he says the Chilcot findings do not go far enough in criticising the government.
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A former Northampton Labour MP who voted against war in Iraq says the damning Chilcot report is “too little too late” for the families who lost loved ones in the conflict.

Tony Clarke was one of 121 MPs to rebel against the Government’s plans to war in the Middle East back in 2003.

“It doesn’t address the weakness at the heart of our political system that allowed such heinous misadventures to take place in the first place.”

Tony Clarke

But he says the damning findings of Sir John Chilcot’s 2.6 million word Iraq inquiry today tell him what he already knew at the time.

It found the UK chose to join the invasion of Iraq before peaceful options for disarmament had been exhausted; it found military action at that time was not a last resort and intelligence had “not established beyond doubt” that Saddam Hussein was producing chemical and biological weapons.

It also found policy on Iraq was made on the basis of “flawed” intelligence assessments.

Mr Clarke, who lost his seat in 2005 and is now a Green Party member, believes the report should have gone even further.

He said: “I don’t think it deals with a lot of the questions the families of those in the armed forces have been asking.

“It doesn’t address the weakness at the heart of our political system that allowed such heinous misadventures to take place in the first place.”

He added that he and many others wee not convinced by the now infamous “dodgy dossier” justifying the case for war in 2003.

“I don’t think there was any doubt in people’s minds that the case for war had not been proven,” he said.

“The dodgy dossier was easy to see through.

“But to our eternal shame only 120 of my colleagues joined me in opposing the military action.”

He said “scores” more colleagues shared concerns about the justification for war in the run up to the March 2003 vote, but many failed to communicate that to Tony Blair.

Some he believes were protecting their own political careers in doing so.

He added: “Everything that has come out now - whether the intelligence was correct; whether the information about Saddam Hussein was correct, whether we really looked at Hans Blix’s report (into the supposed production of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq) properly, we knew at the time.

“It didn’t take me seven years to work that out.”